Channel Adversity Into Your Writing Process

Channel adversity quote: “In the middle of a difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein


Writers throughout history have leveraged personal crises and daily stressors to create. From death to divorce to political division, writers have written through (and dared to channel) the most challenging periods of their lives.

Channel Adversity Into Writing – Real Life Examples

If you’re avoiding your writing project and feeling demotivated, remember Jean-Dominique Bauby, the popular French editor of French fashion magazine Elle. He suffered a massive stroke at 43 which left him paralyzed and speechless. Remarkably, he wrote his memoir (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) by blinking every time a person reciting the alphabet reached his appropriate choice of letter. Not only did he write the book this way, but he also edited it this way as well.  

Janet Frame is widely recognized as one of New Zealand’s most respected authors. Her childhood was rife with trauma and In 1945, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and placed into an institution. The writer was spared a lobotomy when she unexpectedly won a writing contest. In 1961, her novel Faces in the Water was published. She later went on to become a best-selling author in her home country. 

Channel adversity into meaningful change.

Writers endure hardships like any other humans. They are not immune but are often able to channel their challenges into the writing process rather than stifling them. The act of writing can create a coherent narrative of feelings and events, leading to reflection and greater understanding.
Most of us know by now that writing in genres such as journalling and memoirs can be therapeutic, helping the writer process a multitude of human experiences. There’s something clarifying and cleansing about translating feelings and ideas into written form. The expressive power of pen to paper! (More benefits associated with expressive writing as a method to channel adversity.)

As you move through the dissertation process, take the time (daily, ideally) to journal freely. Free-form journaling is akin to stretching before a workout. It gives your mind a chance to play, to “run free”, so when you sit down with your dissertation, it doesn’t feel as weighted and serious.

Another plus to free-form journalizing as a method of overcoming adversity…

Those working on dissertations are usually under varying degrees of stress, juggling jobs, children, medical and financial issues, among others. Free-form writing reduces stress, serving as a healthy way to get a grip on what is actually going on and generating ideas on how issues can be addressed.

For other ideas from famous writers on getting “unstuck” and moving forward with your dissertation writing, check out this article.